The truth came out about Michael Jackson after his death: he was addicted to prescription painkillers, but his former doctor is disclosing that the problem did not begin in the last few years of the King of Pop’s life.
Dr. Stuart Finkelstein says that he noticed Michael Jackson’s drug problem while traveling with MJ on his “Dangerous” tour in 1993. The physician was asked to testify in the court case, Jacksons vs. AEG Live LLC, which is Michael Jackson’s relatives against the company that managed the singer’s tours, merchandise, and a large portion of his career.
How Did He Know?
Dr. Finkelstein was paid to accompany Michael Jackson almost everywhere, 24 hours a day, during the entirety of the singer’s tour. The physician was to monitor MJ’s vitals and administer a morphine drip, among other drugs, when the singer needed them. Dr. Finkelstein noted Michael’s high tolerance for morphine, uncommon in someone his body size with his specific medical conditions.
The doctor also realized that, even though he was giving Michael morphine, the performer was also wearing a patch that gives its user an ongoing dose of opiates constantly, much like a nicotine patch for someone who is trying to quit smoking cigarettes. This patch was part of Michael Jackson’s everyday life; he was not weaning off prescription drugs.
What are Opiates?
Opiates, and opioids, are drugs derived from the poppy plant. Heroin, morphine, codeine, and methadone are opiates and prescription pills like Vicodin, Percocet, Norco, Demerol, and OxyContin are the pharmaceutically manufactured versions, or opioids. All are highly addictive because they relieve all pain and provide a relaxing escape from reality.
Tolerance for opiates is quickly developed, meaning the user must consume more and more of the substance to experience the same high or euphoria. Eventually using opiates is more like daily maintenance to avoid painful withdrawal symptoms than it is to have a good time.
Michael Jackson became one of those people. He needed opiates in his system everyday just to feel “normal”, which really meant feeling no physical, emotional, or mental pain or discomfort.
Dr. Finkelstein claims he told AEG Live about his perception of Michael Jackson’s addiction in 1993 when he identified the problem. The company did not do anything to help the pop star, so the addiction continued to progress. MJ’s friend, Elizabeth Taylor also tried to help by flying to meet Michael at one stop of his “Dangerous” tour and taking him to a treatment center. That stint in rehab did not last; Michael was back to opiates soon after.
Would anything have saved the troubled pop star? The Jacksons are claiming that AEG Live could have done something to help the singer realize he needed treatment. The family is saying that, instead, the company enabled Michael to progress to the point of his dangerous addiction that eventually took his life.
Does it really matter who wins this court case when the singer is gone? For at least the last decade or two of his life, Michael was heavily addicted to opiates and nothing convinced him that life would be better without the drugs.
Kate Green is an addiction treatment specialist curently employed at Balboa Horizons, learn more about Kate and her work here http://www.balboahorizons.com/.